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Tawas Point Lighthouse

If this were to read as proper travel log, there is one last thing from our camping trip that I've left out. In Tawas Point State Park, on the Tawas Point Peninsula, stands a lighthouse. Although it's renovated and well-kept so it looks fairly new, the light is old enough to no longer be standing on the point of the peninsula. See, for as much width as Tawas Point seems to be losing to the lake every year, it is extending its tenuous hold farther out into it instead. Today the lighthouse stands just a little past midway through the peninsula. For this reason, and you can imagine why, they no longer use it as a warning beacon for freighters, but as a guiding light instead. I'm not sure what that means, but I assume the mariners out there do, and they're the only ones in danger of running aground on cantankerously growing peninsulas, so we're all set. I will say, though, that it was of some use in finding our tent on the way back from the bathrooms after dark.

The lighthouse grounds are inside the state park, so if you don't already have the state recreation passport on your license plate, you'd have to pay the entrance fee to visit (so be sure to visit the lake-side beach while you're there, and maybe hike to the point to look for piping plovers, too). If you're staying in the campground the walk is just a pleasant third of a mile. The old oil house is still there, and a small building that, whatever it once was, is today the gift shop. You get your tickets in the gift shop (at your own peril! Look out for such traps as the penny-squishing machine, keychains, and other gewgaws that no one needs but children will beg for mercilessly) and proceed to the house at the bottom of the light for your self guided tour.

The house tour will take you at most ten minutes if you just look, twenty if you read the posted information. The choice is yours. There are plenty of interesting period artifacts and a few books to look through. The second story of the house is off limits to visitors—that is where the "lighthouse keepers" (read: docents) live. An interesting side note: apparently this job is open to any number of people who are willing to pay to do it. You live in the house with its beautiful views for the duration of your "appointment", watching the house and answering questions during its tour hours as best you can. Our neighbors' have family members who have done this for a week every summer.

When you are done touring the house with its five rooms, it's time to get in line to go up the light. This is a spiral metal staircase, the entrance being the same as the exit, so wait times will vary depending on the number of visitors and their agility. There are three landings on the way up and tradition dictates that as you go up, you wait on each landing until the next is free before moving up, staying out of the way of visitors who are coming down. Eventually you make it to the top, which is big enough for the light, the docent, and probably three more people—I know we three fit up there, but Calvin's kind of little. It was a tight squeeze, but the view as beautiful, even with the clouds. Unfortunately there's this big light in the way, but oh well. Go at the right time (just before the 6pm closing time in spring and late summer) and the light will already be on.

Once back outside, enjoy the lovely lake and bay, and be sure to look for frogs.

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